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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Education Reform

Having been home schooled for the first 4 years of my education, then private school for another 4, I received an elementary education that was above average. Extensive reading was not only encouraged, but required and mastery of the concepts was graded and rewarded. We worked on a self motivated goal setting system in which I did as much or as little as I pleased and if I advanced beyond the allotted work for my grade level, I progressed to the next grades work. There was faculty on hand with general knowledge in all areas and specific knowledge in 1 or 2 areas who were available to assist or encourage us. Similar to college, we had certain marks we had to achieve each semester and we were permitted to learn at our own ability levels. The majority of students excelled and those who had more difficulty certainly improved over their performance in the public school system they came out of.

My freshmen year of high school, I entered the public school system and found myself relearning the same material that I had covered in 5th grade. Additionally, the majority of my peers were taken aback by the way that I spoke. Why did I have to use all those big words? I eventually learned to speak in the common language that is not english, but rather the bastardized form we call ebonics. This is a failing that I believe can be placed squarely on our school system. How can students be expected to learn about philosophy, economics, science, or any other topic when they don't understand the words that are being read? Public schools vary in their degree to which they have backslid, but overall there are major gaps to be filled. Classes are taught to the lowest ability and standardized for everyone, regardless of desire or ability to learn.

The idea of school choice through the use of vouchers is one that has been suggested over the years. In this manner, parents could take the education funding that their tax dollars pay for and send their child to any school of their choosing. When asked his views on the voucher system, Obama responded, ""if there was any argument for vouchers it was ‘Let's see if the experiment works'". However, despite these words, he came out in opposition to the new voucher system that would have allowed parents the choice of using federal funding for private rather than public education. Not a big surprise, but certainly another disappointment.

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